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First explored in 1805 by the Lewis and Clark expedition, the territory now known as Idaho is an 83,557 square mile expanse of forest land, prairies, mountains and deep canyons along the Snake and Salmon rivers. The first permanent settlement was established in 1860 at Franklin. Like many other territories in the Pacific northwest, the Idaho territory was caught up in the California Gold Rush of 1849. As settlers expanded their search for gold important strikes were discovered in Idaho and in 1863 the Idaho territory was set up. Since the miners were extremely mobile, they flocked to the strike and mining towns sprang up overnight.
An early historian, Hubert Howe Bancroft once stated, "The miners of Idaho were like quicksilver. A mass of them dropped in any locality, broke up into individual globules and ran off after any atom of gold in their vicinity. They stayed no longer than the gold attracted them." A simple democracy was used to govern the mining camps in Idaho. When a strike was made the miners would meet to organize a mining district and adopt rules governing the behavior in it. The rules covered the size and boundaries of the claims, which established a means for settling disputes and set penalties for crimes. By 1890 when the early mining bonanza was ending, the base of American currency was changing. Angry disputes over the currency affected politics which in turn sped political organization of the populated portions of Idaho and other western states. Many, including Idaho, were granted early statehood in 1890 because of mining.
Today, the Capitol of Idaho is Boise. The state abounds with minerals such as silver, lead, zinc, phosphate rock and antimony. The late 19th century saw the growth of cattle and sheep raising in much of Idaho. The State Flower of Idaho is the Mock Orange Syringa and the State Bird is the Mountain Blue Bird.